By Peter Finney Jr.
NEW ORLEANS -- Deep down, Carmelo Anthony knew he could have been on his way to a historic night. Instead, the New York Knicks scoring machine had to settle for simply a great one.
Playing just 28 minutes, Anthony poured in 19 of his game-high 29 points in the first quarter -- outscoring the entire New Orleans Hornets team during a 29-17 period -- to power the Knicks to a 102-80 rout and extend their NBA-best record to 8-1.
The game was so lopsided -- the Knicks held the Hornets to 32 second-half points to break open a five-point game at halftime -- that Knicks Coach Mike Woodson got to rest his star forward for the entire fourth quarter.
"Who knows, it could've been a great night," Anthony said after hitting eight of his first nine shots and nailing two 3-pointers in the first quarter. "That's kind of hard to tell because we were beating them by the large margin. I'm sure it'll be nice like that again."
But Anthony knew this night was special. Asked the last time he could recall outscoring an opponent by himself in a quarter, Anthony smiled and said: "It was just one of them nights."
"Hey, Melo's an All-Star," Woodson said. "He's one of the top players in this league, and he's proving it this season so far. We've got to continue to push him to pay at that level, and I've got to help him do that."
The Hornets played without rookie forward Anthony Davis, who suffered a stress reaction in his left ankle and is "day-to-day."
But it wouldn't have mattered.
Knicks center Tyson Chandler said Anthony's 19-point blitz -- doing it from inside and outside -- is an indication the mercurial forward should be considered the leading MVP candidate in the first month of the season.
"Absolutely," said Chandler, whose 12 rebounds helped the Knicks to a 49-36 edge over the Hornets on the boards. "He should be at the top of the race right now. We're playing the best basketball, and it's because of him."
Anthony was so dominant and drew so much of the Hornets' attention on defense that Raymond Felton had wide-open looks on the perimeter. Felton finished with 15 points - on 5-of-6 from 3-point range.
"It's a good thing to have a guy who can get you 20 in a matter of a quarter," Felton said.
Added Jason Kidd: "He's setting the table for us to knock down shots."
After trailing 29-17, the Hornets ran off 13 consecutive points in the second quarter to take a 36-34 lead. But the Knicks ended the quarter with three 3-pointers by Felton, and the rout was on when the Knicks went on a 23-10 run to start the second half. The Hornets got 15 points from Ryan Anderson, but they gave up at least 100 points for their fourth consecutive game.
"Just from watching the game, I didn't think we believed we could win," Hornets coach Monty Williams said after his team dropped its fourth consecutive game to fall to 3-6. "I didn't think everybody played with a winning attitude."
NOTES: Davis sat out the game and is "day-to-day" with a "stress reaction" to his left ankle. A stress reaction is an injury to the bone that, if left untreated, could be the precursor of a stress fracture. Williams said the Hornets would carefully monitor Davis' recovery. "We'll figure it out as we go along, but it's something that we're just going to be cautious about right now," Williams said. The Hornets said Davis tweaked the injury during practice on Monday. He will travel with the team for its four-game road trip that begins Wednesday night in Indianapolis. ... Knicks Coach Mike Woodson was noncommittal when asked if Amar'e Stoudemire would supplant Carmelo Anthony as the starting power forward when he returns from left-knee surgery in mid-December. "I'm going to address that when we get to that point," Woodson said at the morning shootaround. "Right now I'm just taking it a day at a time and work the guys we have in uniform." ... The Hornets waived guard Matt Carroll, who was acquired in a Nov. 13 trade with the Charlotte Bobcats for forward Hakim Warrick. Carroll never reported and had been scheduled to earn $3.5 million this season.